Long gone are the years when Chinese cars looked like mere clones of more famous European or American cars. Of course, it still happens sometimes that models 'Made in China' resemble the shapes of some successful cars already seen, but this is increasingly rare.

The Chinese car industry, now heading towards the conquest of international markets, seems to have understood the lesson and started to propose models with original, modern lines which are increasingly created by Western designers.

In an increasingly intense 'designer hunt', China's leading car manufacturers are in fact challenging each other to hire hundreds of those designers who have made the fortunes of German, British, Italian, French or American manufacturers. Let's find out who some of these designers are and what their pencils drew before they landed in the great Asian country.

Wolfgang Egger - BYD

One of the most well-known European designers to have moved to China is Wolfgang Egger, BYD's Director of Design since 2017, a role he previously held at Audi, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Seat.

Wolfgang Egger

Wolfgang Egger

The role of the German Egger, also known for his fruitful collaborations with Walter de Silva, has long been to oversee the most important projects of the various brands he works with. The entire new BYD Seal, Dolphin, Han and Atto 3 series can be attributed to the team headed by Wolfgang Egger.

  • 2016> - BYD
  • 2007-2013 - Audi Group
  • 2001-2007 - Alfa Romeo
  • 2001-2001 - Lancia
  • 1993-2001 - Seat
  • 1989-1993 - Alfa Romeo

Klaus Zyciora Bischoff - Changan

Also German and the stylistic father of many famous European cars is Klaus Zyciora Bischoff, the designer who after creating the Volkswagen Golf VII and VIII and the entire ID range, from the ID.3 to the ID.Buzz moved to China's Changan at the end of 2023.

Klaus Zyciora Bischoff

Klaus Zyciora Bischoff

As head of design for the entire Changan group, Zyciora is in charge of defining the design for the new Chinese Changan Auto branded cars, but also those of the new 100% electric brands such as Avatr and Deepal.

  • 2023> - Changan
  • 2007-2023 - Volkswagen

Kris Tomasson - NIO

From the United States comes Kris Tomasson, the industrial designer who, after several stints at BMW and Ford, landed in 2015 at NIO, the Chinese electric car startup that was then called NextEV.

Kris Tomasson

Kris Tomasson

Tomasson is now NIO's vice president of design and head of the NIO style centre in Munich, where the styling of all new battery-powered models is developed, starting with the EP9 supercar up to the flagship Nio ET7, which is also sold in some countries in Europe. Also working in the Bavarian NIO team are Raul Pires Jr. (ex Bentley, Italdesign, Audi and Great Wall) and Adil Benwadih (ex Aston Martin, Audi and Opel).

  • 2015> - NIO
  • 2014-2015 - BMW
  • Ford
  • 1992-1998 - BMW

Stefan Sielaff - Geely

Among the many German designers who are designing China's new cars is Stefan Sielaff, the pencil man who created the shapes of the Audi A1, Audi A7 Sportback, Mercedes CLS and Bentley Bentayga.

Stefan Sielaff

Stefan Sielaff

Since 2021 Sielaff has been working in the Geely Group as Vice President Global Design at the Swedish headquarters in Gothenburg. Here he oversees the new styling of all the group's brands such as Geely Auto, Zeekr, Lynk & Co, Volvo, Polestar, LEVC, Lotus and smart. Among the many western designers working for the Geely group are also the Finnish Camilla Kropp (Lotus), the Swedish Lars Falk (Zeekr), Javier Garcia-Gallardo (Zeekr) and Goran Ozbolt who heads the Geely Innovation Design Centre in Milan.

  • 2021> - Geely
  • 2015-2021 - Bentley
  • 2012-2015 - Volkswagen Group
  • 2005-2012 - Audi
  • 2002-2005 - Daimler

Pontus Fontaeus - GAC

The Chinese giant GAC also relies on a westerner to shape its new cars, and it is Swedish-American designer Pontus Fontaeus, who holds the dual role of director of GAC Advanced Design Los Angeles and technical director of GAC R&D Centre China.

Pontus Fontaeus

Pontus Fontaeus

Fontaeus, who has styling the Volvo V40, V60 and Faraday Future to his credit, has been working at the GAC style centre in California since 2017. Remember that GAC also has a style centre in Italy, in Milan to be precise, headed by Frenchman Stephane Janin.

  • 2017> - GAC
  • 2015-2017 - Faraday Future
  • 2007-2010 - Volvo
  • 2004-2007 - Kia
  • 2001-2004 - Volkswagen
  • 1996-2001 - Renault
  • 1993-1996 - General Motors

Henning Knoepfle - Dongfeng

When we talk about Chinese automotive giants, we certainly cannot forget the Dongfeng Group, which from 2021 sees German designer Henning Knoepfle heading the Dongfeng Motor Corporation Technical Centre in Wuhan.

Henning Knoepfle

Henning Knoepfle

Knoepfle is in charge of the new electric car brand eπ, but also of the group's other brands such as Forthing, Voyah and Aeolus. Leading Dongfeng's Advanced Design Shanghai is Andrew Collinson.

  • 2021> - Dongfeng
  • 2021 - Great Wall Motor
  • 2019-2021 - Dongfeng
  • 2019 - Volvo Truck

Andrew Dyson - Great Wall Motors

The Great Wall Motors group, now abbreviated to GWM, relies on the father of iconic cars such as the first Volkswagen Touareg, the Chrysler Crossfire, the Saab 9-5 and the 2020 Opel-Vauxhall Mokka. His name is Andrew Dyson.

Andrew Dyson

Andrew Dyson

Dyson is the design director for GWM from 2022 and is responsible for overseeing the future image of the Haval, WEY, ORA and Tank branded models.

  • 2022> - Great Wall Motors
  • 2007-2021 - Opel
  • 2000-2007 - Chrysler
  • 1989-2000 - Volkswagen
  • 1988-1990 - Jaguar Land Rover

Giles Taylor - FAW

Among the first European designers to collaborate with Chinese manufacturers is Giles Taylor, the Briton who in 2018 became the head of FAW's style centre in Munich.

Giles Taylor

Giles Taylor

Taylor has in his career cars such as the Citroen Xsara, the 2010 Jaguar XJ and the 2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom. For China FAW Group, he meanwhile headed the design team of the new Hongqi branded cars.

  • 2018> - FAW
  • 2011-2018 - Rolls-Royce
  • 1996-2011 - Jaguar
  • 1992-1997 - PSA Peugeot Citroen

Sajdin Osmancevic - Chery

Very recently, Sajdin Osmancevic joined Chery Automobile Co. in the Wuhu style centre. The Bosnian designer has already sketched the lines of the new Chery Tiggo 11 SUV, as well as several new and restyled models of the Fulwin and Cougar brands.

Sajdin Osmancevic

Sajdin Osmancevic

Before coming to Chery, Osmancevic worked at Skoda, Ford and Great Wall.

  • 2023> - Chery
  • 2021-2023 - Great Wall Motor
  • 2019-2021 - Ford
  • 2016-2019 - Skoda
  • 2014-2015 - BMW

Rafik Ferrag - Xpeng

From France to China, this is the big step taken by designer Rafik Ferrag to become the design director of Chinese electric car start-up Xpeng in 2023.

Rafik Ferrag

Rafik Ferrag

Joining the Guangzhou office in 2017, Ferraq was appointed director of external design at Xpeng in April 2023 and has been responsible for the pure styling of the Xpeng Aeroth flying car since 2021.

  • 2018> - Xpeng
  • 2012-2017 - Honda
  • 2010-2011 - PSA Peugeot Citroen

Benjamin Baum - Li Auto

Another Chinese start-up and another German-speaking designer. We are talking about Li Auto, the new Beijing-based company that started with range-extender hybrids and is now turning to pure electrics such as the Li Auto Mega also designed by Benjamin Baum.

Benjamin Baum

Benjamin Baum

Baum, although young, has a long experience at Porsche where he helped to sketch the lines of the 911 series 992 and in 2022 he came to Beijing to develop the Li Auto L7, L8 and L9 SUVs.

  • 2022> - Li Auto
  • 2011-2020 - Porsche
  • 2011 - Audi